I enjoy coming across new bands, new sounds and new directions. To paraphrase Diamond Dave, these are new worlds to discover. There’s a huge difference for a band in playing a gig to releasing an album. With a gig, enthusiasm can cover a multitude of shortcomings and you can learn and grow. With an album, it’s there in all its glory as a one-off to be judged, derided or loved. So this debut release has arrived on my desk between the fresh release by Canadian super-colossus Striker and the new album by Anthrax. So, no pressure lads.
Psython are a three piece from the north of England, Sheffield to be exact, formed in 2014. Outputs is an album of 12 tracks largely in the style of speed and thrash with the odd tug of the forelock to NWOBHM. The first thing that impressed me about this album was a wave of confidence that belted out of the speakers, confidence in what they were doing and how they went about it. The next impressive thing was the playing which was far beyond a level that I expected from a first release and was both tight and, in some places, experimental and fresh. There is also enough variation in the songs that it doesn’t really become dull or repetitive. There are the few gems and the odd dip, but we will get to the specifics once we address the vocals which are the biggest let down of this album.
When you have music with this level of drive and intensity you expect that the vocals would match that. I expect to be knocked back in my chair and not lightly dabbed with a wet lettuce leaf. I want to feel my blood boil with intensity, not with the disappointment of a major opportunity missed. It sounds like the vocalists voice is always on the edge of cracking and is weak compared to the maelstrom of metal going on in the background. Was a real turnoff and would recommend that Psython listen to American angry bastards, Black Tusk. With stronger vocals, this album could have gone from great musically to an excellent debut, but hey-ho there you go.
Best tracks on this release are ‘DNA’, ‘Meltdown’ and ‘Fatality’. Great tracks with awesome playing and a real blast from the past with my mind filled with great times of Havok and Exodus. But it’s the song ‘Blunt’ that is the pick of the album for me. It’s NWOBHM and played with a swagger that belies this band’s short history. Although the vocals are utterly wrong for this song type, the song itself is a winner and performed well. It does take me back to the earliest days of UK metal and coming from Sheffield the guys are well placed to dive into that magic. Great track, pick of the bunch.
About half way through the album there is an instrumental, ‘Serpentes’ which was an opportunity missed to just let loose and have a crack. It’s probably one of the more relaxed parts of the album but did hint at the bands ability to have a go at some experimentation which is a good sign and something that should be pushed at all costs. It’s those tricks and switches that stick in people’s minds and separate the great from the multitude.
The low point on this album is the last track, bizarrely called,’ gRAPEfruit ‘ where it all falls in a bit of a heap as we stagger towards a wheezy end for the vocals. Setup as the big final push, the playing is superb and tight. The composition is spot on and cuts to some great riffs but by this point I was so over the vocals it became hard to be rational.
Even with the problems I have highlighted I think this is one of the most impressive musical performances that I’ve heard from a band at this stage of their career. I’d recommend that you dip into the songs I’ve picked out and give it a go. Hopefully those of you who venture out and see Psython play their upcoming gigs can have a listen and tell me that the vocals are much better live, which I really hope is the case, as the band deserves the recognition.
Reviewer Craig Grant